Visualiser les mécanismes moléculaires des protéines membranaires dans la santé et la maladie

 

Rikard Blunck

Université de Montréal

 

Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs - Senior

Concours 2017-2018

Neuronal activity and the heart beat are both based on electrical signals in the cell wall of the neurons and heart tissue, respectively, leading to so-called action potentials. Small proteins in the cell wall, named ion channels, generate the electrical signals by letting sodium, calcium and potassium ions enter or leave the cells selectively and precisely timed. Mutations in these ion channels are the basis for many inherited neurological and heart diseases.

My laboratory uses fluorescence techniques to visualize the movement of the ion channels. This way, we can step-by-step untangle the complex functioning of these proteins and "reverse engineer" their principles. Using these techniques, we will investigate the function of ion channels responsible for temperature sensation and pain, as well as heart beat and brain function. We will furthermore use amino acids that are not in the natural arsenal to insert fluorescent probes into the channels. This will allow us to see the function of channels even in neurons embedded in the brain tissue.

The aim of this study is to design better and more specific drugs and improve treatment of patients. To this end, we established a collaboration between the clinicians of the Montréal Heart Institute and basic science researchers on the Université de Montréal campus, to directly investigate the molecular and genetic basis of arrhythmias diagnosed in these patients.